203 episodes

Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. A podcast from The American Scholar magazine. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
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Smarty Pants The American Scholar

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.4 • 93 Ratings

Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. A podcast from The American Scholar magazine. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    #202: Bite Club

    #202: Bite Club

    You may have heard of them before: those pale creatures with suspiciously sharp canines that sleep in coffins during the day, hunt people at night, and occasionally transform into bats. Stories of bloodsucking monsters have haunted humanity for hundreds, even thousands of years—but the modern vampire was arguably born when Enlightenment rationality met Eastern European folklore. That’s Nick Groom’s argument: he’s known as the Prof of Goth, and he makes the case that vampires rose from the grave at the same time that philosophy, theology, forensic medicine, and literature were beginning to question what it meant to be human. Why have vampires lingered in the imagination for hundreds of years? Nick Groom joins us on the podcast to open some coffins for answers. This episode originally aired in 2018.
    Go beyond the episode:

    Nick Groom’s The Vampire: A New HistoryThe London Library reported that it located some of the dog-eared books Bram Stoker used during the seven years he researched Dracula Watch the trailer for The Hunger (1983), in which David Bowie and Susan Sarandon both suffer the love of an immortal vampireWe are also fond of Only Lovers Left Alive (2014), in which a glamorous Tilda Swinton and a depressed Tom Hiddleston puzzle out their place in modern societyHere’s a montage of all the bite scenes from Christopher Lee’s classic turn in Dracula (1958)And, of course, there’s always Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1996–2003), which inspired Slayage, a peer-reviewed journal from the Whedon Studies Association
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
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    Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes!

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    • 19 min
    #201: Haunting the Homeland

    #201: Haunting the Homeland

    Between 1947 and 1956, at least 77 recorded witchcraft trials took place in West Germany. Wonder doctors and faith healers walked the land, offering salvation to the tens of thousands of sick and spiritually ill wartime survivors who flocked to them. People hired exorcists and made pilgrimages to holy sites in search of redemption. The Virgin Mary appeared to these believers thousands of times. Monica Black, a historian at the University of Tennessee, found these stories and many others in newspaper clippings, court records, and other archives of the period that testify to West Germany’s supernatural obsession with ridding itself of evil—and complicate the conventional story of its swift rise from genocidal dictatorship to liberal, consumerist paradise. Black joins us on the podcast to describe the spiritual malaise lurking in the shadows: the unspoken guilt and shame of a country where Nazis still walked free. This episode originally aired in 2020.
    Go beyond the episode:
    Monica Black’s A Demon-Haunted LandThere’s a three-part, five-hour documentary about the German mystic and faith healer Bruno Gröning on YouTube, presented by the Bruno Gröning Circle of Friends, which is probably not the most unbiased sourceNational Geographic has compiled an extensive map of sightings of the Virgin Mary (note the big upswing in 1950s Germany)East Germans also fell prey to the influence of West German faith healers: the preacher Paul Schaefer promised people salvation if they followed him to South America. Read Scholar senior editor Bruce Falconer’s 2008 essay, “The Torture Colony,” on the troubled (and Nazi-ridden) Colonia Dignidad
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
    Subscribe: iTunes • Feedburner • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast
    Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.

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    • 20 min
    #200: A Literary Love Letter to Egypt

    #200: A Literary Love Letter to Egypt

    In 2002, literacy was at an all-time low in Egypt, revolution was a few short years away, and Nadia Wassef opened an independent bookstore named Diwan in Cairo. With her sister Hind and her friend Nihal, Wassef built an oasis for lovers of the written word, whether Arabic, English, French, or German. Diwan now has seven locations—and two mobile book trucks—having survived recessions, censorship, misogyny, and political turmoil. Wassef joins the podcast to talk about the story of the store in her new book, Shelf Life.
    Go beyond the episode:
    Nadia Wassef’s Shelf Life: Chronicles of a Cairo BooksellerIf you’re ever in Egypt, visit DiwanRead your way through Egypt with these recommendations in The GuardianDive into the golden age of Egyptian cinema, or watch Souad, the first film by a female Egyptian director to be screened at Cannes
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
    Subscribe: iTunes • Feedburner • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast
    Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes!

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    • 24 min
    #199: The Late, Great, Country House

    #199: The Late, Great, Country House

    The English country house has been on the brink of ruination since at least the start of World War I—or perhaps the first chug of the Industrial Revolution—or was it the end of serfdom …? Propping up this dying, decadent institution has been a favored pastime of preservationists, architecture buffs, and earls for about as long as the institution has been around. In his new book, Noble Ambitions, historian Adrian Tinniswood peels back the wallpaper to show how these ancestral piles survived both World War II and the sunset of the British Empire—and in some ways, are more relevant than they ever were.
    Go beyond the episode:
    Adrian Tinniswood’s Noble Ambitions: The Fall and Rise of the English Country House After World War IIFor the completionist, his previous book: The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House, 1918-1939Revisit the famed 1974 Victoria & Albert exhibition “The Destruction of the Country House,” or go visit Agecroft Hall and Gardens in Richmond, Virginia, one of several country homes dismantled and reassembled on this side of the Atlantic. In England? Check out Sudbury Hall, which gets a shout out in the episodeThe first bestselling nonfiction book about the country house? Mark Girouard’s Life in the English Country HouseRead Sam Knight’s essay about the National Trust’s recent report on colonialism and slavery: “Britain’s Idyllic Country Houses Reveal a Darker History”If you haven’t yet, you simply must watch Downtown Abbey
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
    Subscribe: iTunes • Feedburner • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast
    Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes!

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    • 24 min
    #198: Between the Sheets and In the Streets

    #198: Between the Sheets and In the Streets

    In March 2018, the Oxford philosopher Amia Srinivasan wrote a provocative essay for the London Review of Books asking, “Does anyone have the right to sex?” Three years later, the essay forms the backbone of a bold new collection that probes the complexity of sex as private and political act, moving beyond the simplicity of yes and no and the hashtags of #girlboss feminism. Srinivasan joins the podcast to discuss the ideas that animate The Right to Sex, whether it’s pornography and freedom, rape and racial injustice, punishment and accountability, or pleasure and power.
    Go beyond the episode:
    Amia Srinivasan’s The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty-First CenturyRead the essay that started it all: “Does anyone have the right to sex?”Relatedly, her essay on pronouns: “He, She, One, They, Ho, Hus, Hum, Ita”How many other philosophers have been profiled by Vogue?Smarty Pants is no stranger to feminism: listen to our episodes on feminist book collecting, rock criticism, war, science, and religionListen to historian Scott Stern on the origins of criminalizing sex work, and read his essay, “Sex Workers of the World United”
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
    Subscribe: iTunes • Feedburner • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast
    Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes!

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    • 29 min
    #197: Nature on Trial

    #197: Nature on Trial

    A bear burrowing through the trash bin. Rats on a home invasion spree. Elephants barreling through Indian villages. Caterpillars munching through crops. Once upon a time these offenders would be put on trial and dealt with in a court of law, however ineffectually. Today, conflict management between humans and the natural world is an entire industry that grows with every incursion we make into the wilderness. Mary Roach returns to the podcast to talk about what it was like to be mugged by a macaque while working on her new book, Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law.
    Go beyond the episode:
    Mary Roach’s Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the LawFlash back to 2016, when Roach was our very first guestYes: we really did put animals on trial, and it did not go wellAre the parrots of Western cities pests? San Francisco thinks not; Amsterdam disagreesWhat to do when 30-50 feral hogs run into your yard (OK, but they are actually a problem)
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
    Subscribe: iTunes • Feedburner • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast
    Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes!

    See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    • 23 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
93 Ratings

93 Ratings

veccb ,

Always Learn Something New

This podcast has exposed me to a wealth of topics. It’s a nice treat to learn something completely new each time and learn about topics I have never been exposed to before.

foesmck ,

One of the best

One of my favorite podcasts. Thanks for your hard work!

cincysport ,

Difficult to listen to.

Can’t understand much of what the host is saying because of vocal fry. So distracting.

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